Eight of these 10 selections will already be on bookstore shelves by the time you read this, which means you’ll be ready to spend the entire month reading. Given the frigid weather recently sweeping the country, that might be a good plan.
n “Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal,” by Mark Bittman (Feb. 2)
Bittman, acclaimed author and journalist, shows how our food choices affect our global economies, personal health and beleaguered climate. With a strong focus on how 20th century changes led us to early 21st century problems, this book is a manifesto for anyone who eats, which means everyone.
n “Land of Big Numbers: Stories,” by Te-Ping Chen (Feb. 2)
As a Wall Street Journal correspondent, Chen lived longer in Beijing than anywhere except her U.S. hometown. Her stories in this collection, following various Chinese characters, consider the very big question of what freedom means. The answers may surprise Chen’s fellow Americans.
n “The Survivors: A Novel,” by Jane Harper (Feb. 2)
Those who are already fans of this Melbourne-based author will agree: Harper is to Australia what Tana French is to Ireland, a writer whose psychologically rich plots are matched by a deep understanding of place. “The Survivors,” set on the coast, centers on a man named Kieran, his absent brother Finn and, of course, secrets.
n “The Removed: A Novel,” by Brandon Hobson (Feb. 2)
Hobson’s 2018 novel, “Where the Dead Sit Talking,” was nominated for a National Book Award; perhaps his new book will win one. An enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation tribe, Hobson weaves his community’s folklore into the story of the Echota family, whose lives have been tragically altered by the death of their son.
n “How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House: A Novel,” by Cherie Jones (Feb. 2)
Jones, a lawyer from Barbados, reimagines her home island as Paradise in her debut novel. The irony is that Paradise is anything but, especially for the characters whose hard work and impoverished lives sustain tourists’ idylls. An initial murder turns out to be the least mysterious event in a narrative that moves from present to past and back again, showing cycles of abuse and redemption.
n “Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019,” edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain (Feb. 2)
Kendi (“How to Be an Anti-Racist”) and Blain (“Set the World on Fire”) present a 400-year history of African Americans. Ninety writers each take on a five-year period, illustrating it through essays, stories and more in a beautiful retrieval of voices once left unheard.
n “Like Streams to the Ocean: Notes on Ego, Love, and the Things That Make Us Who We Are,” by Jedidiah Jenkins (Feb. 2)
The author of 2018’s bestselling “To Shake the Sleeping Self,” about the “quest for a life with no regret,” returns to start a conversation about the elements that give our lives meaning. Jenkins’s thoughts on ego, family, home, friendship, love, work, death and the soul include pithy ones like, “It can be hard to tell the difference between an outcast and a pioneer,” and “Your sense of self is built or broken by the company you keep.”
n “Fake Accounts: A Novel,” by Lauren Oyler (Feb. 2)
A woman discovers her boyfriend is an Internet conspiracy theorist, and she decides to leave him, fleeing to Berlin in hopes of beginning a new life. But can she trust anyone, anywhere, given the magnitude of our lives online? The unnamed protagonist in Oyler’s debut functions as an everywoman for those whose digital footprints are deep.
n “Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future,” by Elizabeth Kolbert (Feb. 9)
In her Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Sixth Extinction,” Kolbert examined how human destruction has reshaped the natural world. In “Under a White Sky,” she investigates how human intervention might be the only way to save that world. She speaks to biologists, engineers, physicists and others whose projects — sometimes bizarre — offer hope.
n “Moms Don’t Have Time To: A Quarantine Anthology,” edited by Zibby Owens (Feb. 16)
Host of the “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” podcast, Owens is a mother of four and the publisher of the online magazine “We Found Time.” She gathers pieces from that publication here, by authors Sonali Dev and Chris Bohjalian and actress Evangeline Lilly, among others, who muse on love, sex, fitness, food and, yes, books during the strange past year.
Patrick is the editor, most recently, of “The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians and Other Remarkable People.”
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.